Fresh off of a historic season at the University of Pittsburgh that saw him break a number of Dan Marino’s records and earn himself an invitation to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist, Kenny Pickett’s final season as a Panther came full circle last week as the Pittsburgh Steelers tabbed him as the next franchise quarterback, selecting him 20th overall in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pickett’s rise from Day 3 quarterback at Pitt his first three seasons into a top 20 pick is quite remarkable overall, which leads to easy comparisons to former LSU star and current Cincinnati Bengals’ standout quarterback Joe Burrow’s rise from mid-level prospect to Heisman Trophy winner and future No. 1 overall pick.
After dominating the collegiate level in 2021, Pickett lands in an ideal situation with the Steelers, going right across the hall to the Steelers’ facility to work with some rather familiar faces overall. Now that his landing spot is known, a pair of anonymous college football Power 5 coaches — including an anonymous ACC coach — stated to ESPN Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg that Pickett was the right choice being the first quarterback off the board, and believe he can succeed with the Steelers much like he did with the Panthers.
“Pickett was by far the one true NFL guy,” a Power 5 coach said Friday, Rittenberg writes. “I don’t think the rest of them are first-round guys. It would have been a stretch.”
“Super-competitive guy, playmaker,” an ACC coach added of Pickett, according to Rittenberg’s writing. “He’s tough and obviously, being at Pittsburgh will be good for him. He does fumble a lot, and that’s probably the one thing that could get him.”
Post-draft, the general consensus with Pickett is that he was the most pro-ready quarterback in a jumbled quarterback class overall, right there alongside Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, so he should be able to hit the ground running in the NFL right away.
As the ACC coach stated anonymously too, Pickett is an uber-competitive guy, one that makes plays at a high level, especially out of structure on the move. Having played in 49 career games at Pittsburgh, he brings significant experience at the position to the NFL ranks, and fits in perfectly with the overall mindset in the city and the organization from a toughness and competitive standpoint.
The concerns about Pickett and his fumbling issues are certainly valid entering the NFL, but those issues seemingly have more to do with general ball security issues, rather than his hand size. He’ll have to clean up the issues with carrying the football down around his hip when on the move, but overall the future appears rather bright for the former Pitt star.